January 29, 2012 by staff
Novak Djokovic, NOVAK Djokovic confirmed his credentials as one of the great champions of tennis when defeating Rafael Nadal in a remarkable and record-breaking Australian Open final.
The defending champion overcame a 4-2 deficit in the deciding set to win 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5) 7-5 in a 5.53-hour epic that will be recognised as an all-time classic given it became the longest grand slam final ever and also the longest Australian Open match ever.
That there was another twist should not surprise. After breaking Nadal at 5-all, Djokovic moved to within two points of the match only for Nadal to scramble from side to side to somehow gain a break point.
Djokovic, after crunching a backhand with all his might, crossed himself repeatedly seeking the divine intervention clearly needed to finish this contest.
His prayer was answered, with a Nadal shot clipping the net chord and bouncing out to give him championship point. A forehand sealed it. Words, though, can not do justice to how remarkable the match was.
Djokovic, rightly, will be lauded as a deserving champion but Nadal underlined his reputation as one of the most courageous players to grace Rod Laver Arena. He, too, returned from the brink in the fourth set to ensure this match a place in history.
It is a match so superb that it will be discussed whenever the great grand slam finals are discussed. It is also a most fitting finale to an extraordinary Australian Open.
From Bernard Tomic’s come-from-behind victory over Fernando Verdasco to the epic semi-finals between the world’s four best players, the quality of tennis on display has been staggering.
Melbourne conquered yet again, the one grand slam frontier not yet breached at Roland Garros is the next obvious target for Djokovic at the end of May.
Shortly before last year’s US Open, Nadal made an admission startling given his status as a champion. He conceded in an interview in New York that Djokovic had him beaten mentally.
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